On the evening of my 37th birthday, after eating grilled salmon in the backyard- not in the least bit worried about the thistles and the morning glory- the family decided to go for a walk. Well, Seren rode his bike- a light blue, lower rider style- complete with those low swooping gorilla handlebars, and I pushed Cyrus in his stroller.
Our route is predictable- an L shaped street, about 1/4 mile each length and the back again. This road dissects two much busier county roads and is dotted with homes on large lots along with an organic farm, raspberry and potato fields, and a horse ranch. The sky stretches huge over the green plants- this big sky- one of the gifts of living in farm land. When we go to the forest Seren disappears into the fern and moss- and will later express heartfelt desire to live in the trees. I get that. But the open sky is hard to leave behind.
We walk westward- into the setting sun. It is the first hot summer evening of the year- and no one is outside. Or maybe there are outside elsewhere, but it is uncommonly quite on our walk. There are no dogs on leashes, moms with strollers, people in pairs- just the four of us, chatting or not, as we settle into that fine feeling of contentment.
Seren is up ahead- and has rounded the corner of the L- now headed south. There used to be two old horses in that field. One blind- the other sway back and skiddish, but I haven't seen them in a while. Maybe they've moved on. The new horse stables have been built by the mysterious millionaires who buy up land like they are starting a compound. Maybe they are. We look at the stables from our living room window- the horses small wild animals dancing about the grass. They are young and strong- one has a white crescent moon on his forehead and he is not skiddish at all.
When we round the curve, Seren's bike is propped on the drunken cedar fence, held together by rusty barbed wire and he is crouched down staring at the asphalt- chasing frogs. His eyes are lit with wonder- a glow I will never grow tired of seeing. His sneakers can't carry him fast enough to us where he reveals his delicate treasure in cupped hands- the smallest frog (or maybe a toad), smaller than a nickle with a tiny tail still poking out of his backside.
As we scan the road- they are everywhere. Each baby wildly chaotically hoping and hopping in a chorus to cross the road- from one thick of grass to another. The gray bodies of a few fallen frogs lay and bake in the sun while a murder of crows call from the trees overhead. So we hunch to pick up frogs and deliver them safely to the over side- some we just shoo a bit. I laugh at the bliss of being a frog crossing guard- and am thankful no cars come traveling along- for there is no frog-free space to drive through. In a minute though- they are all safely hidden in tall grass- and you can hear them rustling through the leaves- toward some pond I have never seen.
It's trite to say the best presents don't come with a bow. But I'll say it anyways. Because when you get to see an exodus like and be the first, and maybe only, human to hold a frog- and to watch your boys give small kisses on their heads before they lay them gently down- something clicks in your heart. Something clicked in mine- more than just the beauty of nature- it was the reassurance that we all need help, we all can give help, and we all can witness. Everyday we can witness.
"seems like everywhere i go, the more i see the less i know..." michael franti